Eid · Equality · Humanity · Islamic parenting · Islamic society · Islamic values · Muslim Mama · Parenting · Ramadan · Rights of the young · Role of Masjids · Sunnah

How our Ummah is being failed by the beautiful Masjids

Picture this scenario.

You are 4 years old and day after day and night after night, you listen to stories of the bounties of Jannah. You yearn for Jannah and learn of all that could take you there. You learn that prayer is on top of the list and make sure to watch people in prayer at every possible opportunity. You practise praying in your very own prayer mat. You can’t even reach the handle of the door but you squeal in delight at the thought of praying in the Masjid only to be told the beautiful Masjid does not want you there. You pray outside by your mother on a worn and dusty carpet, and wonder if you had been “naughty” and that’s why they didn’t let you in.

Or picture this.

You are 5 years old. It’s Eid! You wake up at the crack of dawn and rub your sleepy eyes with your tiny hands. Bathed and dressed in matching Abayas, you go to the Masjid as a family for prayers. But alas, you can’t enter the prayer room at all. So you sit on a straw mat outside the carpeted prayer hall, squashed by similar peers and wonder why they wouldn’t just let you pray inside. 

Now picture this.

So now you are 10 and suddenly you are not shooed away like scum. You reluctantly wrap your shawl on and apprehensively enter the prayer room. It’s the soft carpet you always wanted to touch and feel. You are now bathed in the glow of the twinkling lights you once sneaked a peek at before being told to move away. You pray dutifully but your heart is heavy. Your mind is filled with the rejection of the yesteryears and you feel watched. Your heart throbs in fear and shame at the thought  being told to leave again. Finish your prayer and return home and slowly start giving excuses to not go there again. You worry about your prayer there because you just could not focus with all your thoughts. You stop going to the Masjid altogether because you are tired of feeling like you did something wrong.

At school your friends talk about their Sunday at church and you listen in surprise to how they pray together. You are surprised to learn that children attend their prayers and hear their stories of fond memories through the years. What a nice God they had, you think to yourself, ashamed to say it out aloud.

The rest, I leave to your imagination. 

Your mind and tongue can wag a million reasons on why children should be banned in Masjids but all I ask you to remember is that no problem exists but with a solution already devised for it by Allah swt. 

Noise? Have a separate room for moms and kids instead of pointing them towards mats thrown outside in haste.

You want to maintain the carpets because that trumps inculcating love of prayer in children in priorities? FINE. Hang a sign that forbids any food and drinks in the prayer hall and have the person who is stationed to shoo away the children to monitor the prayer hall and remind people violating that rule. Have a spot to change diapers in the washrooms and strictly forbid it in the prayer hall; the children shooer can monitor that too.

For almost all of the “reasons” children are heartlessly banned from prayer halls, there are solutions. The simplest one is to remember that children are people and feel all the emotions too.

There are a handful of Masjids that still welcome children and we have been blessed to have them around. This rule that blatantly ignores the example of our beloved Prophet (PBUH)’S love for children is generally found in the new and beautiful structures.

What most people fail to realise is that banning children is essentially, banning the mothers too. 

Why would a mother, who can pray in peace in the comfort of her own home knowing her children are by her side, want to hand over her children to a complete stranger along with many other children to pray with a heavy heart and fear(for the children’s safety) in a Masjid?

Naturally, the mother stops going to the Masjid too. Disheartened by the rejection from a place she thought would help her raise her children, she would look elsewhere for the support and open her family to being misguided.

I write this with a heavy heart after I had to once again console my little ones who did not understand why yet again they had to only look inside the beautiful prayer hall from outside when we stopped for prayers after a fun day out. Telling them it is because they were little made me feel as if I was telling them that being little was wrong.

Instead, I looked at my little girl’s face and said, “Love, you need to make duaa everyday for Allah to help you build a Masjid that welcomes children too”.

Nodding her little head, she ran off to focus on something else, like children usually do but brought it up again without fail at bedtime, proving she felt deeper than she let on.

How are we going to shake out of the state where it has become normal to prioritise the maintenance of a creation over developing the faith of the Ummah?

May Allah swt guide us through these scary times!



Disclaimer: I do not intend to pinpoint at any particular place nor do I assume to be more informed than those of higher authority. I am simply a heartbroken mother, wondering how to explain to her children on why they are not allowed into a prayer space to pray to the One who loves them more than I ever could. 

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Islamic parenting · Muslim Mama · Parenting in Ramadan · Quran · Ramadan · Ramadan Tips · Surviving Ramadan with kids · Women

Ramadan tips in the era of Facebook-worthy parenting

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If you have ever felt gutted while browsing through the zillions of Ramadan related crafts and activities people share,  or felt guilty at not giving your children and family the magical Ramadan that your neighbor is giving her family, step into the boat and we shall row far away from the wrath of the perfect parents.

The updates started to roll in, slowly but surely. Blogs and posts of extensive Ramadan decorations and crafts that threatened to crush my airway with their sheer difficulty were all over the social media.

Suhoor and Iftar menus were documented and recipes were exchanged. Children were presented with Ramadan baskets filled with handmade items to keep them occupied during the month as the mothers occupied themselves with preparing vast meals with intricate garnishing and memorized the Quran along with it.

Every single tidbit was photographed and plastered all over the home page to possibly motivate moron-mothers like yours truly.

I watched all the preparations with a sense of foreboding that increased as the first day of Ramadan approached. With a folder full of ideas and recipes, I was all set but for the sheer energy or time.

Mustering up the motivation to change out of my pajamas by midday is an achievement; the idea of making ocean themed pastries with finicky pastry is laughable when my belly is full let alone while fasting.

After finally stepping out of the baby bubble this year, I was faced with the prospect of fasting the entire month whilst homeschooling a highly inquisitive 3 year old and a 1 year old who puts the energizer bunny to shame.

Although the month began in trepidation, this Ramadan has been one of the most productive and calmer ones in recent memory, with the help of a few small but necessary adjustments to my mindset.

Alhamdulillah!

  1. Curb the need to shine on social media. You choosing not to parade your kitchen success on your profile does not mean you feed your family sticks of butter. This constant need for approval in the form of “likes” can be indulged in all other months but let it go for now.
  2. Keep your meals simple but packed full of nutrition. Simple additions to your diet, like a glass of water with a couple of dates soaked in it for 12 hours can go a long way to keep acidity at bay. A plate full of watermelon at Suhoor keeps you away from being dehydrated. This is the month of fasting and not feasting, no matter what tradition may say. Stick to your regular dinner meals if possible.
  3. Keep your phone on you as much as possible. Use an authentic Quran app to sneak in a couple of pages of recitation whenever you are excused from pretending to be a horse or patient at the hands of your little minions.
  4. If you are homeschooling younger children, let these last few weeks be focused entirely on teaching them Quranic stories. We opted for a word-a-day activity to last the entire Ramadan (there will be more on this in the near future). Children love stories and the Quran is brimming full of enchanting ones.
  5. When you feel boredom or restlessness creeping in, listen to short but relevant lectures by orators who are gifted with the power to awaken your need to learn. A personal favourite would be Br. Nouman Ali Khan and his hilariously concise analogies.
  6. Try and get the children to stick to their regular sleep schedule as much as possible. This leaves you ample time for focus on yourself and your relationship with the Quran.
  7. It would be preferable to have finished all the Eid shopping before Ramadan but not everyone sticks to plans or remembers to take carefully jotted lists when stepping out of the house. The final ten days are around the corner- rush out and get all the clothes and gifts before they dawn upon us.
  8. Do not spend the last few days getting ready for Eid. Need decorations? Begin now or simply print out a bunting banner and you are good to go. The spirit of Eid al Fitr cannot be dulled by the lack of finicky decorations.
  9. Keep a record of things you want to achieve before the month comes to an end. The Satan is locked away and cannot hinder you from turning on a new leaf. Use these weeks to rid yourself of habits that you are not too proud of because this is the easiest time to practice doing so without the buzz of the devil.

Tendency to indulge in a spot of gossip? Make a vow to dedicate a prayer for each time you re lapse.

Easily hooked on to shows and prone to binge watching? Reward yourself for every day you go without it.

  1. Handling children: This is a tough one but a breeze once you actually stop and think about it. Our progeny hold the immense power to make us go from benevolent mothers to scaring the wicked witch of the west in a few seconds.  Short from having them on a leash (no pun intended), there is nothing we can do about it. Give them a free pass for the month. Let them have lots of unstructured playing whilst you sit in the same room (a witness is always required when you deal with more than one) and catch up on your recitation. It is entirely up to you if you feel that they need a structured time but this will require your already sparse energy too.  When they squabble, make it a point to begin a long talk and they will learn to figure it out themselves (happy dance*).

 

Our religion is a natural one and we creatures have been exhaustingly making it as tough as it possibly can get.  Mothers place undue stress upon themselves to live up to the insane standards set by individuals who are either blessed with amazing energy levels or have help at home; it is never possible to have it all AND feel a sense of satisfaction.

You will always have to forgo something.

It just does not have to be your sanity or your sense of achievement.

The mercy you show your children when you clean their snotty noses, the struggle you face in trying to coax food between their adamant teeth, the mini-asphyxiating episode you face as you wait for them to get off your head whilst in prayer, and even your funny faces to bring on a smile on their face is being recorded and rewarded a heap of times more than on any other month.

If the first part of the month was less productive than you would have liked it to be, let it go. You have the final 10 days to look forward to and make the most out of. Use the few days before those days to prepare yourself and your family to enjoy the rewards they come with.

In a highly materialistic world that places deep values in the opinion of society, it is difficult to stand up and do anything differently. Do it for Allah and remember that every family and their needs differ and you will surely be blessed with a sense of contentment, something even a zillion “likes” will never bring about.

O Mothers of the social media Ummah, you are the Queens of your households; reign as freely as you wish to!

Ramadan Mubarak!